The big three
It’s nearly impossible to put your thumb on exactly what qualities it takes to captain a hockey club, but three Vancouver Canucks prospects have them.
A triad of Canucks prospects, namely Brendan Gaunce, Frankie Corrado and Jeremy Price, will be sporting the ‘C’ for their respective clubs this season.
After serving as an assistant captain last season for the Belleville Bulls, Canucks 2012 first round pick Brendan Gaunce has been named captain of his Ontario Hockey League club. Gaunce led the Bulls in goals, assists, and points last season with 68 (28-40-68) in 68 games. He was also tied for third on the team with 68 penalty minutes.
“In being in Vancouver over the summer and observing the guys there, you see their approach and realize what professionals they are,” Gaunce told bellevillebulls.com. “It’s my goal to bring that enthusiasm and drive to the rink every day.”
Gaunce has been touted as captain material since he entered the OHL in 2010 and leadership is something Bulls head coach and general manager George Burnett said the 18-year-old oozes.
“He brings a lot of leadership qualities,” Burnett told Canucks.com in June. “He leads by example, he is not a big talker but when he does have something to say its worth listening to and I think he is the type of guy that makes people around him better.
“I think his leadership will shine through when he becomes an NHL player.”
As Gaunce enters his third season in Belleville, the Bulls are looked upon as one of the top contenders to represent the OHL at the Memorial Cup in Saskatoon in May.
Staying in the OHL, defenseman Frankie Corrado has been named to captain of the Sudbury Wolves. The Canucks fifth round pick in 2011 amassed 26 points (3-23-26) in 60 games last season to go along a staggering plus-26 rating and 81 penalty minutes.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Corrado, “and I just want to do everything I can to lead the team in the right direction.”
Former Wolves assistant coach Jeff Buekeboom told Canucks.com last May that Corrado’s leadership among the younger players has been very evident.
“He is very good with the young guys and takes them under his wing,” said Buekeboom. “He is very caring and remembers what it was like when he was coming into the league. Every year we have had our midget draft he always is texting me to get the kids numbers that we drafted to talk to them, wish them luck and help them out along the way.
“He always looks out for others and is very valuable in that way.”
Corrado is entering his fourth season in Sudbury and will be looked upon to lead the Wolves into the playoffs. Although a select few have the Wolves as contenders to compete for the OHL Championship, they are often left out of the conversation when talking elite teams in the OHL.
“I believe we’re just as good as any team,” said Corrado. “Obviously time will tell but we have a good core group and some young up and comers who will help our team.”
Corrado is no stranger to playing steady, turnover-free hockey in his own zone, but will be looking to add to his stellar defensive play this season.
“I would like to have some more offensive upside this year,” he said. “I feel like I could have done a little more offensively without risking a lot defensively last season.My defensive game really improved last year which is something I am really proud of, but this year will definitely be a big year to step up my offensive side of my game.”
Also named captain of his squad was defenseman Jeremy Price, the Canucks fourth round selection in 2009. Price enters his fourth and final season with Colgate University, where he will be one of three captains for the Raiders as they utilize a tri-captain system, electing to have three players wear the ‘C’ every game, with no players wearing an ‘A’.
“Along with the other two captains, we’re really excited about the added responsibility to leading such a young team to success," said Price.
Price led all defenseman on the Raiders last season with 23 points (2-21-23) in 36 games. His 21 assists were tied for second on the club in that department.
Some great captains motivate through words, some motivate through example, Price said he feels he is more of the latter.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a very outspoken leader,” said Price. “I try to set a good example, lead through hard work, and expect others to follow suit.”
Leadership runs in the Price family. Jeremy’s older brother Matt served as the captain of Boston College during the 2009-10 season, which Jeremy was able to see and look to as a major guidance for him.“Leadership is definitely a quality I grew up on,” said Price. “My brother has had a huge influence on me, just watching his experiences from a distance.”
After losing some top guys due to graduation and turning pro, the Raiders will go with youth this season, which has some critics dismissing their chances at contending, but Price said the team has different expectations than outsiders.
“Externally I’m sure expectations aren’t too high considering we lost so much offense, but internally we’ve kept out expectations high. I’m sure a slight learning curve can be expected early on but we’ve always aimed to finish in the top-4 in the ECAC and put ourselves on the national stage by the end of the year.”
Three different leadership styles, three different stages, three different prospects blossoming before our eyes.